Tuesday 16 April 2013

Safety devices deliberately disabled

A recycling firm has been fined for putting workers’ lives at risk after two machines at their Durham site were found to have vital safety mechanisms deliberately disabled.
During a spot investigation, the HSE found there had been deliberate bypassing and disrepair of several machine guards on two baling machines, which were used to compress material such as cardboard and cans for recycling. 

The HSE found:
  • 8 serious faults on the two machines, including the deliberate bypassing of key control systems to allow access to the compaction chambers, 
  • Damage to one of the emergency stops on a feed conveyor.
The HSE:
  • Issued Prohibition Notices were served stopping all work on the two machines. 
  • Issued an Improvement Notice requiring implementation of a routine guard checking procedure to ensure interlocks and emergency stops were working correctly.
  • Prosecuted the company 
Foreman Recycling Limited, of Edmonton, London, was fined a total of £32,000 (inc. costs) after pleading guilty to two breaches of Section 2 of the Health and Safety at Work etc Act 1974.
HSE inspector Victoria Wise said:
“The dangers associated with operating baling machines are well-known in the waste and recycling industry, as is the history of serious and fatal injuries resulting from their use. These are tremendously powerful machines with a number of mechanical moving parts that have the potential to cause serious harm. Appropriate safeguarding of these machines is extremely important and should include all operations including blockage clearance. The two baling machines inspected at Foreman Recycling Limited were found to have a significant number of fundamental safety features disabled, a situation the company’s management was aware of. The standards found at the site were unacceptable. Fortunately no-one was injured by the machines, but this prosecution should act as a wake up call to companies who do not have a robust safety management system or who put profit before safety.”

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